Sunday, June 30, 2013

New England: The Epicenter Of Sports For The Past Week

The last week in June, most of the sports world has been centered around the New England area for the major news stories. Out of the three major things, only one dealt with actual results on the playing surface. The biggest one and the most shocking and sad is the story about Aaron Hernandez and him being arrested for Murder while being an active member of the New England Patriots.  The second one and also off the playing field is the total dismantling of the Boston Celtics for the next couple of years. The final one is the Boston Bruins and the Chicago Blackhawks Stanley Cup final. Dovetailing onto that story is the fallout coming for the Bruins roster.

Let's tackle the Hernandez story first. Since I am not in New England, I am not bombarded with details each and every minute if I am listening to sports talk radio or the local sports TV network. The details from the press is that Hernandez and two associates from Florida were out with Odin Lloyd the night that Lloyd was killed. Lloyd was shot and killed, Hernandez and the two others went back to Hernandez's house. And then bizarre events like the destruction of the security system of the house and Hernandez's phone being destroyed became common knowledge. The fact that the police were at the house each and every day caused a national curiosity. The arrest for murder came as a shock for everybody.

Now everybody is analyzing the tattoos that Hernandez has looking for gang affiliation. The current theory is that Hernandez is a member of the Bloods gang network. When he was a young teen he was flashing gang signs wearing red clothing in a picture. He also has the word Blood tattooed on him. So we have people suspecting that Hernandez was a member that was carrying out an order to kill Lloyd for something that Lloyd had known about. I don't know if that is true. The media doesn't know if that is true. The only people that know if it is true or not is probably Hernandez and his two associates. The Patriots are not culpable for their former player's actions. However, it might give more people pause to take a risk on somebody like Hernandez in the future.

On to a more normal story of off the field conduct. The Boston Celtics dismantled their team this past week. Doc Rivers was traded to the LA Clippers for a 1st Round Draft Choice in 2015. When that happened, you understood that the Celtics as an organization had decided to start the major rebuilding project. On draft night, all the proceedings of the draft were overshadowed by the trade that the Nets and Celtics agreed to. The Celtics sent Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Jason Terry to the Brooklyn Nets for a bunch of serviceable players, stiffs, and 3 first round draft choices. So over the next 5 years, the Celtics have 9 1st round draft choices. The only lottery choices will probably be their own unless that Nets return to being horrible after the Celtic 3 leave, but I don't see that happening because that will mean that other things have gone wrong for the Nets.

The changes for the Celtics might not be done. There are reports that Rajon Rondo is close to being on his way to Dallas. That would leave the Celtics with starting over from scratch. Danny Ainge has said that he is not looking to trade Rondo. The question is still out there whether or not the Rondo is a big detriment to team chemistry and is a coach killer. I am going to be wishy-washy and say that he probably is, but the veterans on the Celtics had held him down and that he could not develop into a team leader. However what is known is that the Boston Celtics, one of the NBA's premier franchises, are rebuilding from the ground up and that for the next couple of years, don't expect them to be challenging for the playoffs.

Finally, let's talk about the Bruins. First, a disclaimer. Disclaimer: I would be happy if the Bruins were the first NHL team in modern times to go winless in a season. The disdain that this Whalers fan has towards the Bruins is real and large. OK, back to the Bruins. They lost what was one of the best Stanley Cup series that I have seen. And the series only went 6 games. The Bruins proved that they had the best Forwards from top to bottom in the league this year. Tuukka Rask proved that he is a very good goalie and that the Defensive corps will be in good hands for years to come with the wealth of defensemen coming up through the ranks. Their undoing in the Finals is that they couldn't contain the speed from the Blackhawks after the Hawks figured out to start dumping and chasing, thwarting the defense that the best coach in the league, Claude Julian, had devised to prevent the carrying of the puck into the zone.

However, changes are coming for the Bruins. Nathan Horton is an unrestricted free agent. He was told that the Bruins didn't have the cap space to bring him back. Multiple report have Tyler Seguin being shopped around to provide cap relief. Rask is asking for 6 Million per according to reports. Zdeno Chara started to show signs of fatigue last in the Finals. Andrew Ference and Jaromir Jagr will not be back. Rask is still trying to show that he can win the big game. Don't give me that Game 7 win over the Maple Leafs as proof that he has. Giving up the game tying and game winning goals in the elimination game of the Finals tells me that he is not a Big Game goalie yet. You could have some chemistry problems develop if the players aren't careful. I believe that the Bruins will still be a contender to win the Stanley Cup, it is starting to look more like they will have to have lightning in a bottle, just like in 2011.

Sometime in the future, there will be another confluence of events that causes the sports fans of a city to pay close attention to every sport that they have an interest in. Last week it was Boston. And for that, those fans there will have something to talk about for years to come.


Anonymous said...

I've laid off the Bruins. It took them 17 seconds to do what took the Leafs four minutes, which is bad enough.

The only thing we know for sure about Aaron Hernandez is he's an idiot for destroying evidence. I'll let the courts confirm everything else I think about him.

That Celtics rebuild could be my Spurs in a couple of years. I'd rather not say anything about Red shoving that cigar sideways and doing what the Rock says. My team's turn will be coming soon enough.

Zebster said...

Funny thing, Brent: I saw this when I came in to write a piece about the last week in Boston sports, which was going to include the Red Sox winning today, ending June with 50 wins...only the 4th time in franchise history, though none of those previous 3 won the WS -- '46, '78 and '08. but they've played much better than expected.
I'm hearing that potential Lloyd was killed because Hernandez couldn't trust him with the knowledge that he (Hernandez) was involved in another murder. Patriots organization is allowing fans to trade in their Hernandez jerseys.
I had heard the Seguin rumor but not related to cap space. The Bruins are actually in pretty good shape there, better than most. Horton can be replaced, as can AF.
I was really hoping to see Paul Pierce retire as a Celtic and take a run at the team all-time scoring title.

Brent said...

Zeb - Sorry about stealing your post. It was something that I was thinking about yesterday while watching wrestling.

I don't care about Hernandez. The legal system will deal with him.

The rumors about Seguin that I read all had it because of salary cap. But no matter why, the fact that the Bruins wanted a Top 10 pick in this years draft to trade him means that they were shooting for the moon with it.

I know that I would like your take on the Celtics deciding to destroy any thoughts of competing for the playoffs over the next couple of years.

Zebster said...

No prob. Yours was much more in depth than I'd intended, except for the Sox.
Danny Ainge is gonna hafta hit HRs with those picks but no matter, in Boston you don't really set up to make the set up to win them. Good for PP that he doesn't have to endure the rebuild but without him this casual fan won't be paying much attention. I think they need to trade Rondo at this point since he is a PITA and will be more so being the only good player on a bad team. They'll likely get more for him than he's worth to the Celts.
I just think the Bruins are unsure how Seguin's gonna turn out. I think they still like him but he can't shoot. Breakaways are his thing but that's not how the Bs play. If it were my team and I couldn't get value trading him, I'd make him a center again.

Zebster said...

I heard the Flames offered the Bs the 6th overall pick (and other stuff) for Seguin and obviously the Bs didn't take it. The Bruins prob w/ Seguin is his work ethic and pattern of minor off-ice stuff.